Integrating data across an enterprise-wide network in disparate locations is complex enough now, but for those who are not moving towards digital transformation, that process is about to become a whole lot harder.
Disruptive technologies such as the cloud, mobility, big data, analytics, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality and the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to push boundaries. Businesses that already have a digital infrastructure will find it far easier to incorporate the products and services that will shape global commerce in the 21st century.
Integrating digital platforms across an entire IT infrastructure is no longer a choice but a necessity if businesses are serious about leveraging information sharing in an increasingly mobile work environment.
Customer relationship management, supply chain management and business intelligence are based on integrating information from multiple data sources across scalable and reliable platforms. However, these data sources have not traditionally lent themselves to consolidation on a single platform due organisational and operational constraints.
This scenario is changing. IT departments need the most comprehensive digital integration solutions to overcome challenges such as user interaction, application connectivity and fully integrated and accessible data availability.
Gaining a competitive edge
Enterprises need to transition rapidly to an infrastructure that provides the efficiency, security and performance that makes them competitive in today’s globalised economy. With that goal in mind, platform integration is driving today’s enterprise IT spending, along with content and data upgrades.
C-suite executives who really understand the importance of integrating state-of-the-art capabilities such as cloud and mobility services into their IT infrastructures are one step ahead of the competition. They realise that such things are no longer a luxury or an afterthought, but a necessity.
This is true in every sector, whether it's manufacturing and resources, where smooth supply chain operation is vital, or banking and finance with its reliance on uniform security and streamlined staff communications.
Moreover, analytics and big data technology is already streamlining much of the work done across enterprises by drawing the most actionable insights from increasingly vast mountains of collected data. At the same time, it stores this information in cloud solutions and sends it to colleagues on mobile solutions, continuing to change the face of the modern workplace.
Overcoming integration challenges
Multiple applications, sensors and mobile devices need to work in harmony across the same platform in a digital environment to optimise processes. However, each new integration brings challenges such as network architecture, software compatibility and data transfer.
Fortunately, there are enterprise integration solutions that no longer cost a fortune and are the perfect tool for organisations that need to upgrade existing platforms quickly. Integration platforms-as-a-service (IPaaS) solutions use middleware and software that reduce the complexity and disruption of integrating new systems and can assimilate legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems with cloud applications either on site or in a cloud computing environment.
Integration ensures all new digital functions are uniform across every division as a seamless service – sometimes this will mean replacing existing processes, while other times it merely enhances them.
Fully integrated systems can absorb new products and services involving big data analytics and workforce mobility, while integrating data sources into a single system also speeds collaboration, considerably reduces the time for collective decision-making, and makes innovation more likely.
The right solutions
Digital integration is about consolidating and customising digital solutions to improve complex business challenges. This includes everything from implementation across physical sites, system support, streamlining supply chains and fully supporting an increasingly mobile workforce.
This means finding the best packaged solutions available for ease of use, dealing with third parties, risk management, and security and flexibility. It also means customising system architecture and program management with the best software and middleware solutions available.
Integrated systems should ideally incorporate every aspect of business-to-IT thinking across every company workplace and mobile worker 24/7. This is why it's essential for C-suite executives to seek out the best business hardware and software solutions that can be tailored to the specific needs of the company.
Migrating increasingly to cloud solutions also helps to expedite the integration process as much of the enterprise’s digital infrastructure can reside there relatively cheaply.
In the future...
There are still many enterprise-sized organisations that operate legacy IT systems using a range of platforms and software on networks that don’t communicate with each other. These companies should be fully integrating their systems both internally and externally so they can develop business models and create opportunities that are compatible with the digital age.
Instead of procrastinating, C-suite executives across the board, not merely those primarily involved with IT, need to embed digital infrastructure into every process, system and company initiative, large and small.
In the future, this will not only involve value and supply chains, but incorporate artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality technologies that will further streamline business processes and create customer experiences that are unimagined today.